E-Limp

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Electronic books are a new thing to me.  Prior to just a few weeks ago, I had never given electronic books much of a thought, at least beyond when my daughter had a Kindle and she had chosen to read an assigned book for school on her Kindle (and was disappointed when the Kindle failed).  Honestly, I am one of those people who is holding on to the notion that a REAL hard copy book is the only way to read a book.

Then again, my only choice for E-books was using my phone or IPod or lap top computer.  None of those mediums is ideal for E-books.  Recently, a dishonest Verizon salesman sold my wife and son a phone upgrade with the idea that the tablet promotion offered with the phone upgrade was ‘free’ and would cost us nothing.  Now, I have two free tablet computers that cost me $500… plus a monthly fee for the phone lines that were added to the wireless accounts.

I despise dishonest people, especially freaking two faced truthless phone salesmen.

So I have two tablets that I have no idea what to do with.  Nobody in my family has a real use for tablet computers.  Sorry, tablet manufacturers, we just don’t.

When I went to my local library to check out the latest jones that I am experiencing, a trilogy by Justin Cronin, I was flabbergasted that the first book of the trilogy was already checked out.  I found the second and third books, greedily grabbed them and horded them to my possession.  But ‘The Passage’ was not mine to be possessed.  I slapped my forehead repeatedly.  What was I to do?

Ahhhhhhhh, but I have tablets in my possession, both gathering electronic dust.  My local library also offers Ebooks.  Hah!!!!!!  I found my loophole.  An Ebook copy of ‘The Passage’ was available.  I checked it out using my new unwelcome tablet, an evil grin enveloping my countenance as I realized that I beat out other desperate readers for one of the five electronic copies available.  I began reading, almost greedily, immediately, trying to get used to the electronic format.

The Passage is very, very, very good, by the way.

I was 90% finished.

Guess what happened?  I bet you can’t guess.

Maybe you can, especially if you are E savvy.

I was close to the end.  The electronic check out period ran out.  I didn’t know it.  I was prepared to finish the book before I went to sleep a few nights ago, but the electronic gods had already taken the book away from me.

AUGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

Big Ball Confession

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I have a confession to make, a deed so nasty and foul that anyone who reads this will hate me forever.

No, I am not endorsing Trump, not even 50 words of Michelle Malania.  I am pretty sure that I would vote for his son.

No, I did not squeeze the Charmin.  I have been tempted to squeeze the Charmin, but I learned my lesson from watching Mister Whipple  turn into an addict.  I am traumatized to this day.  Let’s face it, that guy was cree-py.

This past January, two of the guys from the softball team that I played on a few years ago contacted me to ask if I would play for their team this season.  It was a mildly complicated decision, mainly because it was the company team from the company that I was fired from two years ago.  They assured me that the coast was clear, no one in upper management was watching.  Besides, it would cost me nothing since the company paid the league fee.  I said OK.  I liked playing for that team, especially since we always got along very well, almost always winding down with a few beers in the parking lot after our games.  And I still like to play, still feel like I am just a bit better than your average guy, very proud of a strong arm that can still deliver a throw from third base that will take the first baseman’s mitt off, as well as the above average to hit a softball — I rarely make an out.

Yes, I have an ego.  That is not my confession.

I played the first 10 games of the season.  Each night the team plays is a double header, two consecutive games, so I played the first four weeks of the season.  The last two games, the guy who coaches the team put me last in the batting order.  Last.  I had made three outs in ten games.  The guy batted me last.  Each game I had been moved down in the batting order.

What the freak?  What the freaking freak?  Who does something like that?

This 55 year old dope was insulted and I decided to be a passive aggressive baby.  After all, I knew that if anyone was keeping track of batting statistics, my average as well as on base percentage would be far and away the best on the team.  When I was batting in the 4th or 5th spot in the batting order, our team was winning because I was hitting consistently and scoring the runners on base to the tune of being responsible for at least 6 runs a game (or more).  So I quit showing up for the games, three weeks in a row.  The coach kept texting me and asking if I was going to play, but I always made an excuse for why I couldn’t be there (only one was legit — I went to Feed My Starving Children with my daughter).

Eventually it dawned on me that I was being a whiny baby.  Guilt set in.  After all, the coach kept sending me messages, wanted me to play.  So I decided to come clean, but I was not going to do that without being completely honest.  I told the coach that I was not happy with batting last and had decided it was not worth my time to play if I was batting last and that was the reason why I had not been showing up for the games.  I suppose I was graduating to big boy pants with that confession.

I showed up last night.  Batted fifth in the batting order.  Played third base.  Knocked the cover off of the ball and made some pretty dang good plays at third base, including stealing a rocket hit down the base line and pegging the throw to first base, a satisfying pop in the first baseman’s mitt that caused him to shake his hand with pain.  Our team won the first game by eight runs, the second game by slaughter rule.  I guess I proved my point.

Yes, I have an ego.  That should be the real confession here.

 

 

 

De Muir

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Every moment spent on a bicycle is sublime.  It can be a bit like giving birth, I suppose, as much as I can imagine that feels like, in that it’s not the pain that you remember as much as the sheer joy of what the experience reveals to you.  What I take away from each and every ride will stay with me forever.

Thanks, Jim, for reminding me of that.  You’re pretty smart, for a roadie.

Yesterday was a nearly 30 mile day — 28.99 miles to be precise.  Singletrack.  Rocky, sandy, steep climbs, roots, twisty turns, screaming descents.  Through woods and meadow, groves of cedar.  The Kettle Moraine area of southern Wisconsin is exquisite.  A treat.  And barely two hours drive from my front door.  My third time riding there, it is now cemented on my ‘must do’ list every riding season.

My friend, Ben, sent me a message last Thursday — Kettle Saturday at 10 am?  Full monty.  Some faster riders will be there.

I already was thinking about going on my own.  Ben’s invite just helped me make up my mind — Of course.  I could go for that.  See you then!

And so I went.  Ben and I met his friends, Melissa and Scott, as well as Eric (his job is to drive Specialized demos from trail to trail for demo days), at the John Muir trailhead in Lagrange, Wisconsin.  The plan was to do the full monty, which means that we were going to ride both the John Muir trail system as well as the connector to the Emma Carlin trail system.  On my own, I would have no problem riding the 30 miles.  However, I did not know if I could hang with Ben’s group all day.  Melissa and Scott are racers, Melissa a former roadie turned mountain biker (when I asked her about riding road, she says she has no desire to go back to riding road — it’s too boring), and both skilled, fast riders.

I shouldn’t have been worried.  No one cared.  All we cared about was riding and riding in a beautiful place.  I hung on, but it was work for me, and the faster riders did nothing but encourage me all day, even complimented me as I conquered some fairly hairy rock gardens and a skinny with a tall drop.  When we stopped to catch our breath, it was a blast, the comraderie of riding bringing us together.  I was tired and at the mid way point felt like I didn’t have much left in my tank, but I pushed on and was glad that I did.  Had I stopped, I would have missed a lot, including the time spent winding down at the end of the ride, cold beer and the talk about what we had done that day.

Like when Ben and I were riding through the connector trail that wound through a meadow, surrounded by tall grass.  Ben was about 50 yards ahead of me when I saw his red helmet disappear into the weeds.  The trail was deep with fine sand as it took a sharp turn, Ben’s front wheel digging in and throwing him into the tall grass.

That reminds me, I need to look up what those little prairie dog like animals were in the field next to the parking lot.  They popped out of their holes and stood up to check out the surroundings, all together.

Here’s a selfie taken by Melissa somewhere around the 20 mile mark, when we stopped to cool off and take in the view from an overlook.  I am the guy in the orange with the blue/white head sweat.  Melissa kicks butt — she was up front all day.  Scott was right on her tail the whole time.  They both are such good riders, I felt a bit out of place, but you might be able to tell from the picture that I fit right in.

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Hog Wallow Friends and other stories

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As far as I know, there is not a novel with the title of Hog Wallow Friends.  If there is, I bet it stinks.

Ha!  Ha ha ha!

Hog Wallow Friends might be the best title for the story of my July, at least so far.  Friday afternoon, my boss decided that we both were taking a half day vacation.  So at noon, I was gone, a flash out the door before he could change his mind.  I zipped home, changed into my cycling clothes, and loaded the mountain bike up on my VW for a trip to a Chicagoland mountain bike that I don’t visit as much as I would like to — Palos forest preserve.  I was on the trail by 1:30.

The trails at Palos don’t dry fast, one of the reasons I don’t go there often, but the trails were dry and in great shape.  Palos, however, always has a few large spots on a few trails that hold water, a perpetual mud pit.  One of the first connectors that I took, a trail called Hickory Smoke as it runs through a grove of Hickory, as well as being a fairly fast trail.  At one point on that trail, there is a sharp bend around a large Hickory, a spot where quite a few large roots cross the entire trail.  In between those roots, the water collects, turning the trail into a mud bog.  I crossed the roots close to the tree, a bit precarious as the roots close to the tree are large and, to ride that close to the tree, you have to be comfortable leaning a bit away from the tree as you ride over the roots.  That ended up being the best line, with no issue as I rolled over the roots.

Remember those roots and the mud that exists between them.

Palos has a lot of trail with a lot of climbing, a different ride that the constant little 10-20 feet up and down trails that I normally ride.  It’s a workout.  I rode a good 2 hours or more, returned to the parking lot with a pleasant fatigue, stripped my sweat soaked shirt off and perched underneath the opened hatch of my car to recover with a bottle of water.

“Steeeeeevvvvvvvve!!!!  Is that you?”  It was my friend, Gina, someone I met last year on a group bike path ride, then again as part of the group I rode with during a ride called Rando de Taco.  Gina rolled to a stop in front of me, a big smile on her face, happy to see me.  Likewise.  I enjoyed the rides last year, Gina and her boyfriend Glenn instantly becoming friends.

“Did you just finish a ride?  If you want to ride some more, we have a group ride starting up in a few minutes.”  I might have declined, but I felt like I still had something left in the Steve tank.  Besides, I have never seen Gina ride dirt singletrack.  The two rides I did with her last year were flat path rides and not on mountain bikes.  Rumor was that Gina was a very fast and gifted mountain biker, a former racer who had quite a bit of success.  She is petite and fiercely competitive, a consistently fast rider who led our group on both rides I had been on with her, latching onto my back wheel or riding next to me when either of us were not pulling the group.  I had to see her ride dirt.

So I put my shirt and shoes back on, jumped back on my bike.  The ride was a coed ride, promised to be a medium paced ride.  All except Gina were people I didn’t know — Price, Steve, Chrisrine, Nancy, Don.  As seems to be the case when a bike is involved, three hours later I would have five new friends.

We rolled out onto the connector trail that I had started on a few hours earlier, Hickory Smoke.  The first section went quickly, with Price and Gina leading out, and with me right on their tail.  We stopped for the rest of the group, then Gina encouraged me to lead out.  I did just that.

Remember that I said that Gina is fiercely competitive.  I intentionally lead out fast, hoping to shake her off of my tail, but failing at that.  Quickly, we were out ahead of everyone but Price.

That is until we came to that bend around the tree with the roots and mud.  I took the same line, cleared the roots even faster than I had before.  After I cleared those roots, a few seconds later I heard a loud “Argggggghhhh!” followed by a splash.  Gina had leaned too far over as she crossed that roots, tried to put her foot down to steady her but found out it was too far down to the ground.

Gina was very personally acquainted with the hog wallow-like mud between the roots, covered from head to toe with thick mud as she fell in.  Following the splash was loud laughter as the riders behind witnessed the dirty debacle.

Pictures were not allowed, at least not until Gina was able to take a quick dip in a close by lake.  But her mishap had really created a loose atmosphere amongst the group, not that we were all that serious to begin with.  The pace slowed, the competitive fire reduced to a glowing ember, replaced by conversation.   Before I knew it, several hours had passed and I was near toast.

And that is when the competitive fire returned.  The slower riders in the group decided to finish up, leaving the faster riders — Price, Gina and myself (sort of) — to ride a little more at a faster pace.  They gave us a challenge to ride a three mile loop instead of the one mile connector they would take back to the parking lot, see if we could beat them back to the parking lot.  I was toast, but no way was I going to do the one mile connector.

I should have just admitted it.  I was buttered and spread with jam with about a mile left on that loop.  Price and Gina ended up slowing their pace to help bring me in.  I rode nearly 6 hours of single track that day, though.

We all finished up with a brew at the Imperial Oak, then I headed home to pick up Nate for a late night movie.  I still had a little left in the Steve tank, I guess.

Price invited me back to Palos for a early morning July 4 guys ride.  I made some new friends — Price, Dean, Neal, as well as getting to ride singletrack with Glenn (Gina’s boy friend).  I was invited to ride with Price and a few others the next evening, with a promise that I could try out Price’s fat tire bike on that ride.  We ended up at the Imperial Oak after the Tuesday evening spin, a mistake for me as I ended up staying out way too late!

So there you have it.  I am so glad that summer is back and the trails are ready to ride again!

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream

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I need to scream.  I am emotionally spent and I have no outlet.  I need to be comforted and hugged, but the one I thought would be there for me when I need her touch took that away from me a long time ago.. and she is the source of my frustration.

Where do you go when you need to scream?  What do you do?

I want to know.

Do you moan to God like David, at times feeling like God has rejected you?  I can relate.  I pray for relief, for change, and it seems like I am praying for naught.  My prayers feel empty.  I have yet to dance naked before God and everyone, like David did in his celebration.

Maybe that’s the answer?

Naaaaaa.

Do you spill your anger out on the people around you, the poison seeping from your pores, dripping from your tongue?  My mood threatens to turn black when the screams are trapped inside me, so much that I wish I could run from myself.  Instead, I run to a mirror, witness the distressed man that stares back at me, darkness lurking in his eyes, tears pooling.  Often enough, I am able to leave him there.

A bicycle provides escape for a time, each frustration shaved away as the pedals turn beneath me.  There was a time when the bicycle was the only outlet that I needed.  There are times when that is still the case, but more and more the screams stay with me.

I am not a violent man.  I can be an angry man, a man I have learned to fight simply because I know that I don’t handle the angry man very well.  Never am I tempted to strike out in an attempt to release the screams.  I am afraid of what might happen if I did.  I want to be angry with my words, but I don’t like to do that, so I hide my words away more often than not.  So I need to scream.  I want to scream.

I can’t.

I want to scream so loud that it all goes away.  The pain.  The want.  The sacrifice.  The woman who complains and takes, who gives so little back.

In a moment, I will retreat to an empty bed.  I will wake up to a still empty bed.

And I will live my day craving the opportunity to scream.

Some day it will happen.

 

The Silence of the Steves

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“Madness can be a medicine for the modern world” – Hannibal Lecter

I have a craving for fava beans and a nice chianti lately.  Isn’t that wonderful, Clarice?

Ever since I got my CPAP machine, I have been sleeping like Dr. Lecter.  Getting used to sleeping with a machine blowing and sucking through my nose all night can, at times, drive one to near cannibalistic madness.  This may be near impossible believe, but I have not and will not reach that point.. at least not as a result of the machine.

Contrary to what one might think, I think (therefore, I am) that being subjected to a CPAP machine just makes me more sexy.  It does not make me seem old.

“Debbie, did you hear that Steve is sleeping with one of those sexy masks?”

“Oh yeah, Sue, I hear it gives him more suction.”

“Oooooooo, just think what it’s like to listen to heavy breathing all night!”

“I bet he’s a real sex machine.”

(Can we hit it and quit?)

I required a little time to get accustomed to sleeping while wearing the mask, as well as the constant suction and air blowing down my throat.  Quickly, I learned that opening my mouth after the machine gets to full pressure is not the most pleasant experience.  Air comes rushing out of my gob.  Talking is near impossible.  If my mouth drops open in the middle of the night, I wake up.

But I sleep like the baby that I am.  I no longer snore, as far as I know.  Mir still does not sleep with me the majority of the time.  After over a month, I can sleep through all or the majority of the night wearing the mask.  Some mornings, I wake up with an hour or so left to sleep and I take the mask off.

I have been fairly diligent with keeping the mask and air hose clean.  Here’s a tip for you if a CPAP is in your future — when you wash the air hose, make sure you hang it so that the hose properly drains.  Let’s just say that last night the sound of the water blowing through the hose, plus the water collecting on my nose, made sleeping a tad bit difficult.  I discovered after about ten minutes of enduring the moisture madness that the solution was to remove the mask and let the machine blow the water out.

Life is gooder.  Yes.  Gooder.  I have not noticed a huge difference in how alert I am during the day, but I do seem to have a bit more energy.

So.  I have CPAP.  Yippee.

 

 

Faith of our Fathers

It’s Father’s Day.  A day to celebrate the one who helped bring you into this world, perhaps the one person in this world whose influence matters the most, no matter whether that influence is positive or negative.FB_IMG_1466356332499

My dad is a definite positive.  I know there a some who are not so fortunate, who can not or will not say the same.  For those who can’t, I wish I could share my dad with you.  He’s not perfect, something I am indeed thankful for if simply because it gives me hope with my own children — because I really hope that my own children are able to look at me the same way.

Maybe I should share the tribute I sent to my dad today.  It says just a little bit of what I feel for my father:

Happy father’s day to my dad who showed me that a guy can be handsome without hair.

Most importantly, Dad embodies what Jesus tells us to do, to be a servant. He always serves with a smile, something I hope that I have a little of in my own life. Whether it’s teaching a class at church, helping a friend, or being there for my brothers and I, Dad does it without hesitation. I learned to love people by watching my dad, who has never (mostly) met someone he doesn’t like. Dad has always supported me, right or wrong, with an unconditional love that comes from a heart that knows God.

This is my dad — “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Thanks, Dad.

You see, my dad gave me the best gift a father can give to his children — an example worth following.  That includes what he believes about God, his faith.  Dad is the most genuine person I know, about as real as a person can be, and his value comes from that quality.  His life has never been about possessions or the things he can have.  People and family are what makes my dad smile.. and I really like that.  Since I was a little boy, I have seen how my dad treats other people, the joy he gets from conversation and the enthusiasm he shows as he shares with someone else.  There is a little of that in me, something I am very thankful for.

Father’s day is an opportunity for me to celebrate and honor my day a bit more openly than I am able to the rest of the year.  Thankfully.

I hope my children will be thankful for me some day in the same way that I am thankful for my own father.  Really, it’s what we guys live for, not to hear our children gush about how great we are, but to see them respect us by the way they live their own lives.  I pray that my example will show in the way my girl and boy live their lives.  If I see just a little of myself in them, I will be happy.

May your day be blessed!

No Crying In Bicycling

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20160613_202106Tonight’s ride ended with a bit of drama — broken spoke drama.  Drat.  Drat.  Double drat.  Double broken spokes.  But, as it is in baseball, there is no crying in bicycling.  There may  be wailing and screaming, especially if blood or broken bones are involved, but there is no crying.  I only was able to ride 30 minutes or so.

It could have been worse.  How, you might say, especially if you’re a cyclist?

The spokes could have popped some time in the last eleven days.  My days of freedom, of temporary free balling bachelor hood, as in riding almost every glorious day with nothing and no one to worry about.  On June 1, coincidentally my birthday, I emerged from my bed very early in the morning, loaded my car with enormously overstuffed suitcases, and motored my wife and children to O’Hare airport to meet their morning flight to lovely, scenic Anchorage, Alaska.  I couldn’t go due to lack of money and a boss who strongly urged me to avoid spending the whole eleven days in Alaska.

Besides, the first four days were filled with wedding festivities.  My daughter was a bridesmaid for her cousin, Inga the bride, a sight I sorely wished I could see — Alyssa in her bridesmaid beauty and Inga, almost like a daughter to me, in her bridely beamery.  I wanted to be there, I really did, but I couldn’t justify the expense.  Some might say that I should have bit the bullet, forget the expense to go, but now I am looking at trying to pay for a new roof and school expenses for my children in the next month.  There is no possible way that we could have afforded it had I gone.  I am going to keep telling myself that.

There is something to be said about the therapeutic benefits of having a full ten days to one’s self.  My family would not be returning until June 12.  That seems like a long time.

Dang, did it go fast.

Contrary to what might be expected, I did not roam the house in my birthday suit, even on my birthday.  My nights were not spent in a drunken stupor.  I do not require alcohol for a stupor.  However, I did buy beer to keep in the refrigerator, enjoyed a cold one inside my house without fear for the first time in many, many, many years.  Temporary as they were, my days in my briefs as a brief bachelor were very tame.

Besides, I am not kidding about being broke.  My paycheck was awarded to me the night before my family flew for father’s freedom, but my paycheck also flew to pay the mortgage, car insurance premium, cable/internet payment, electric bill, and a few other small responsibilities.  A surprise family cell phone bill a few weeks ago, a bill of $524 that I had not planned for, had also drained my checking account.  There was no money for me to play.  A few months ago, I had hoped to venture off to Wisconsin for a weekend of mountain biking, but my bank account said nada nicht no way.  I made lemonade out of the lemons, though, had fun riding close to home.

Last Tuesday night, I paid a rare week day visit to Palos Forest Preserve to ride the excellent singletrack trails there.  There was a mountain bike skills clinic there that evening, so I also attended the clinic.  That may have been a mistake — I learned how many bad habits that I have developed during the last three years on a mountain bike!  However, I learned the proper way to manual (i.e. lift the front wheel of the bicycle over obstacles), adjusted my riding position to a more neutral position that utilizes my hips to negotiate turns, and a better method of turning.  One particular bad habit that I had was covering each brake lever with 2 or 3 fingers.  The best method is one finger, with more fingers on the grips the best idea.  On top of learning, I made new friends with some of the regulars who ride at Palos.  They not only invited me to ride their Wednesday night group rides, but they also asked me to go to their post ride hang out, a place called the Imperial Oak Brewery.  On a normal night, I would have had to decline, but I didn’t need to rush home.  I went there, had a real good time.

My family provided me with plenty of pictures while they were in Alaska, thanks to the wonder of smart phones (something I had been cursing just a few weeks before when paying that huge bill).  Alaska truly is a beautiful place and there were many times during the last two weeks when I wished I was there.  After the wedding was over, my family travelled through the mountains with Miriam’s relatives to spend a few days in Homer, Alaska at a vacation home they rented together.  Nate went with a few uncles on a deep sea fishing trip, caught at least ten halibut.  He got to keep a 35 pound and 38 pound halibut.  We will be grilling those fish when they arrive here.FB_IMG_1465867327776

I was glad to pick my family up at the airport yesterday morning.  The quiet had been great for me, but I was ready for a little bit of noise in my house.  Besides, the dog and cat were beginning to plot against me.  I am pretty sure that Nick the Sheltie was going to lock me in the bathroom and steal all the food in the fridge.  Nick had been a source of frustration for me, especially with his endless begging, but also because his digestive system did not agree with the pieces of steak that I had shared with him.  The bonding time went bad.  Nick pooped in the living room every night for three days as well as when I was away at work.  Our living room still smells like a toilet.  I used a $50 gift card that my coworkers gave to me for my birthday, to buy a spot carpet cleaner.  The stains are gone but, well, the ghosts of Nick’s turds will live on in our living room for a while.

My family is back.  By last night, I was ready to ship my son back to Alaska.

OK, time to replace some spokes.

 

Yeeeehawwww!!!

Saddle up, pardner!

Saddle up yer bike, that is.  Today was the city’s annual “bike safety rodeo”, an event that we have hosted for the last ten years.  As a commissioner on the bicycle safety advisory committee, I have had the privilege of helping to organize and staff the event most of the past ten years.  While there is no calf roping or bull riding, it’s still a fun event that is usually well attended.  Last year we had nearly 225 children who attended, which may not seem like much, but for an event like our rodeo, that is a really good turn out.

One of the activities at the bike rodeo is the safety and skills course.  Our course is intended to give riders challenges that improve balance and bike handling, as well as teaching safety skills such as riding in a straight line while checking over your shoulder, a necessity for riding busy streets.  The course this year started with weaving through cones, spaced 5-6 feet, a simple challenge that was a favorite for many of the new riders.  It moved on to a spanning station, where the rider was required to call out the number of fingers the station marshall was holding up, both while the rider was riding away and towards the marshall.

Next was a station that I call ‘sobriety test’, a 30 foot straight line that each cyclist had to negotiate without putting a foot down.  The cyclist also could not go past the end of the 30 foot line in less than ten seconds.  If the rider crossed the line too soon or veered off of the line more that five times, they had to try the skill station again.

From that station, each cyclist had to pass a volunteer who posed as a train.  If the train came into their path, the cyclist had to stop.  Once through, the next station was a figure eight — also one of the popular stations on the course.  Part of the figure eight went around a drain grate and the grade leaned towards the grate, making that part of the figure eight like a banked turn.

The final station was a ‘rock dodge’, intended to teach the skill of looking over your shoulder while going around a car.  Each cyclist finished at a certification station, where they received a personalized certificate and had their picture taken with our mayor.  Our mayor is a cyclist, who created our bike commission as one of his first tasks as mayor.  He knew me from seeing me on my daily bike commutes and recruited me as one of the original members of the commission.  Mayor loves the rodeo, volunteers for and helps with set up at every rodeo, never misses a second of each event.  After receiving their certificate and picture, each rider gets their bicycle registered with a city sticker, issued through our police explorer volunteers.

I had the privilege of planning and putting together the bicycle safety/skills course for this event.  It was fun not only laying out the course, but training and supervising the volunteers who marshalled each station on the course.  Most of our volunteers were from our high school key club, great kids who worked hard, enjoyed interacting with the kids who came through the course.  Two of the girls who volunteered were part of the middle school flute choir that my daughter was in charge of while she was in high school, so I was excited to send pictures of them to my daughter — and she loved seeing them.

There are two big draws to our bicycle rodeo.  One is that our city includes money in our commission budget for 20 new bicycles and a large number of helmets that we give away at the event.  A DJ walks around the event, interviewing volunteers and participants, calling out the winners of the bicycle drawing every few minutes.  The other draw is three professional bicycle mechanics who donate their time as well as new materials for a bicycle safety check.  They repair brakes, chains, make saddle height adjustments, replace tubes, inflate tires to the proper pressure, lubricate the bikes — and make sure bikes are safe to ride.  Usually they find a way to make sure a needy child’s ticket gets drawn in the bike drawing.  They also inspect all the new bicycles before they are given away.  This year, they also assembled the majority of the bicycles that were given away.

There is also an area where people can drop off their tired or unused bicycle, where an organization  called Working Bikes Cooperative collects them for repurposing.  It’s funny to see those bikes being taken away at the end of our event.  The Coop volunteer carefully stacks them into the back of the tiny Toyota pickup truck, the sight of the tall stack of bicycles reminiscent of something you would see in a third world country!

After it’s all done, we’re treated to a nice meal of Potbelly sub sandwiches.  It’s such a great event to be a part of.  I love it!

 

Sometimes You Have To Force Yourself

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The title says just about everything.  Truly, absolutely, if you want to benefit, then you need to force you to do things you do not feel like doing.

Anyone who rides a bicycle or runs or trains understands what that means.

Springtime means that I am going to have an allergy induced cold.  I have one now, a cold I felt coming on yesterday morning when my nose started to run.  My mother and I both are afflicted at the moment, an affliction we genetically share.  Yesterday afternoon, after my office manager and I attended a trade show together in the morning, she came into my office to discover me with my head back against the head rest on my office chair, asleep.  That has never, ever happened.  But the oncoming cold had kicked my butt and I could not resist.  I managed to make it through the afternoon at work, hoped to come home and load up my bike for a trip around the trails.  Instead, I occupied the couch in my living room, fell asleep for over two hours.

I should have forced myself to ride.  It was a picture perfect day.  Had I avoided the couch, I likely would have felt 100% better after the blood started flowing.

Maybe.  Maybe not.  Just maybe I needed the rest.  I know that I slept soundly through the night.

However, I was not going to let one more day pass without riding.  After all, it has rained 11 out of the last 14 days, limiting my riding opportunities.  It is a good thing that the trail system that I ride dries out very quickly.  So I loaded up my bicycle and ride clothing in my car before work, the idea being that I would drive out to the trails from the office.

It worked.  I did just that this evening.  My head was three feet thick from the cold, but I rode.  My plan was to ride the full 7 miles of trail, then stop.  However, when I was just about finished, I met my friend Greg on the trail.  Greg is 15 years younger, a much more experienced rider than I am.  Greg asked me if I wanted to ride with him, so I kept riding, adding another 30 minutes to my ride.  Not only that, but following Greg always teaches me something.  I watched him navigate a section of trail that I have never, ever been able to conquer.. until tonight.  I watched how Greg navigated that section and rode straight through without stopping.  Win.  Win. Win.

For those curious, that section starts at the top of a very tall berm, turns sharply left over several nasty roots and drops straight down.  To navigate that section, one has to ride up a steep banked turn and then left the front wheel before dropping down.  Watching someone do it gave me the knowledge and the confidence to do it.

I still feel like dirt, but at least I got dirty.

And dang, the baked chicken and brussels sprouts I cooked when I got home took an edge off, as did the hot shower.

Sniffle.

 

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